Sunday, May 27, 2007

schools - the great levelers

we mumbaikars woke up one morning to see the front page of the mumbai mirror screaming "Pissed off dad buys school for his kids" (you can read the full article here -§id=15&contentid=200705250227128596aece596)

now, the mumbai mirror is not the kind of fare you would like to start your day with. but a headline like this demanded attention. especially for most people who are trying to get their young kids admitted in decent educational institutions.

most mumbaikars will agree that in mumbai it is easier to get invited to abhishek and aishwarya's wedding ( than to get your child admitted into a school of your choice! and for most people, no matter how important the whole world thinks you are, the entire admission process is a very humbling experience.

you learn early on in the process that you have to be ingratiatingly polite and smile at everyone in the school right from the 'chowkidar' (guard) at the gate to the all-important admissions coordinator who decides whether your admission form makes it to the short short-list or to the huge pile of rejects. that's assuming you have managed to get the admission form in the first place!

and if you are one among the majority with a reject letter in your hand (that's assuming the school has deigned to send you one) you dare not ask for reasons. you might believe that your child is god's gift to humanity but the school reserves the right to 'pooh pooh' your belief. in fact in most schools you would not even be able to get an audience with anybody in the school who matters. and even if you manage to meet someone, you can expect the person to feel mighty offended that you choose to question their evaluation process.

in fact the ego-crushing experience that the parents go through at most 'sought after' schools is so common that if any of the schools deviate from this attitude you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with the school.

after going through such an experience the reaction of people tends to differ widely -
1. some decide to buy the schools just to 'show them' and get back!
2. some are so relieved when they get the admission that they just want to forget the whole experience and move on in life. (some even undertake pilgrimages to the religious sites that they had promised to visit if they get the coveted admissions.)
3. some sagely analyse the situation to be a 'demand supply mismatch' problem and that this is something that one has to go through.
4. and then there are those few who truly believe that, in the long run, it doesn't really matter which school your child goes to.

and this is so very true. if we look at ourselves and people around us we see that most people shine brilliantly in life, irrespective of how good or bad their schools were. we personally know of so many great achievers who are from vernacular schools or municipal schools where we would never even think of admitting our children into. (i'd like to mention here that i am not, even for a moment, suggesting that it is not important to plan your child's education!)

i think it finally boils down to our own false notions, confusions and insecurities that reflect in the way we tackle this activity. we create these situations for ourselves by firmly believing that our children will get the best education only if they get admitted into a specific school. but education is not only about the 'pedigree' of the institution. there are so many other aspects that go into making for complete education.

do you agree?

"Don't just invest 'on' the child, also invest 'in' the child!" - Sw. Chinmayananda.


Manasi said...

it seems to me that similar attitudes spill over into other domains of our lives too. for example, a belief that spending 15 days in a gym can yield better results as opposed to 30 min yoga for 3 months. in doing so, i wonder if we are not overlooking the sustainability aspects of our expected outcomes from the choices we make.

also is it akin to being more and more concerned about the instant gratification? guru, am i right in comparing my scenario with yours !!!

Guruprasad said...

manasi :

you are bang on!

we (more so our generation as compared to the previous ones) tend to believe that if we work hard enough and put enough pressure on the environment around us we would be able to mould it according to our own desires.

and then, one fine day, nature decides to knock some sense into us. the problem is, many of us don't see it even after this!